In the 100 days leading up to the kickoff of the 2018 college football on Saturday, Aug. 25, HERO Sports is ranking the top 100 teams in the FBS. Each day, starting May 17 and ending Aug. 24, a new team is revealed in the HERO Sports Top 100.
No. 100 UTSA
UTSA made the transition to the FBS and have five years in Conference USA under their belt. They've played in a bowl game, hired a sought-after SEC assistant as head coach, recorded a winning record, beat a Power Five team and developed a first-round draft prospect.
The Roadrunners are no longer the new kid who's just happy to be here. Can they take the next step in rebuilding both sides of the ball while avoiding a significant drop-off?
2017 Record: 6-5 (3-5, Conference USA)
UTSA lost one of the biggest home games in program history when Hurricane Harvey forced the cancellation of their opener vs. Houston. The teams were unable to reschedule, leaving both teams with only 11 regular-season games.
Four of their five losses came by seven points or fewer, including a three-point defeat to North Texas in mid-October during which they led by four points in the final seconds.
An efficient, if mostly insipid, passing game and a strong defense led the Roadrunners to six wins for a second straight season, but they were not invited to a bowl game.
Head Coach: Frank Wilson (3rd Year, 12-12)
A former Louisiana high school football coach who earned a reputation as one of the nation's best recruiters during six seasons on Les Miles' LSU staff (2010-15), Frank Wilson enters the third season of his first FBS head-coaching job.
"When I look at programs like the University of Houston . . . or even if you go back to the '70s, a Miami program that was a doormat until the Michael Irvins and Warren Sapps made the 'U' what it is. I envision us being this program that continually ascends, the fastest-rising program in college football," Wilson told Dave Campbell's Texas Football in March. "We have a foundation that allows us to grow. We're able to recruit to a different type of player."
QB Dalton Sturm, RB Tyrell Clay, WR Josh Stewart, WR Kerry Thomas, DE Marcus Davenport, LB La'Kel Bass, CB Devron Davis, CB Austin Jupe, S Nate Gaines
Gone from a balanced offense that averaged more than 21 first downs per game is dual-threat quarterback and four-year starter Dalton Sturm. He never posted eye-popping numbers but led an offense that did a lot of things very well and methodical. Sturm's departure prompted a five-man battle for the starting job, though redshirt freshman Frank Harris, who was emerging as the front-runner, tore his ACL in the spring.
One of Sturm's backfield mates, running back Tyrell Clay is gone after a breakout senior season, as are three of their top four leading receivers, including Josh Stewart and Kerry Thomas, who combined for 74 receptions and seven touchdowns last year.
Marcus Davenport is the headline-grabbing departure but UTSA will also miss All-Conference USA honorable mentions on defense in linebacker La'Kel Bass and safety Nate Gaines. Gaines had 198 tackles and eight interceptions over the last three years.
Returning Offensive Players
QB Bryce Rivers, RB Jalen Rhodes, RB B.J. Daniels, WR Greg Campbell Jr., OT Josh Dunlop, G Jordan Wright, K Jared Sackett, P Yannis Routsas
UTSA has one of the better kicker-punter duos in the country in Jared Sackett and Routsas. Sackett was a Lou Groza semifinalist who was one of only three kickers in the FBS to hit more than 85 percent on at least 22 field-goal attempts. Routsas was a Ray Guy semifinalist who had only 47 punts (100th-most nationally) but booted 10 punts of at least 50 yards and put 20 inside the 20-yard line.
After Frank Harris' injury, sophomore Bryce Rivers is now the favorite to replace Dalton Sturm and share the backfield with senior running back Jalen Rhodes. Rhodes, a 5-foot-9, 200-pounder (above), is the lead back for now but sophomore B.J. Daniels is bursting with potential. The big-time athlete who, at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, looks more like a receiver or big safety, had a strong spring.
“That’s what we’ve seen all spring from him — those runs that were going 20, 30, 40-plus yards on a consistent manner,” UTSA coach Frank Wilson said after Daniels jumped over a defender in the spring game. “You got a glimpse of it — to see what we have been seeing all spring.”
The offensive line isn't … well … they're not very … good. At all.
The unit returns only two guys with significant experience in Josh Dunlop and Jordan Wright. Wright became starter at guard when Kyle McKinney was lost for the season in September.
Returning Defensive Players
DE Eric Banks, DE Jaylon Haynes, DT Kevin Strong Jr., LB Josiah Tauaefa, S Carl Austin III
Yeah, Marcus Davenport is gone. You'll hear it over and over and over the entire season. And though Davenport was a stud, UTSA is in good shape up front with returnees and newcomers.
Kevin Strong Jr. (below) was an immediate-impact player as a freshman three years ago and hasn't slowed down. The 2017 all-conference selection has 20 career tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks and, along with Davenport and others, was a huge reason why defensive coordinator Pete Golding was swiped by Alabama.
Eric Banks and Jaylon Haynes are back on the edges, the latter of whom earned all-conference all-freshmen honors despite playing in only four games as a true freshman last season.
Last year was basically a lost season for Josiah Tauaefa after the now-junior linebacker had a monster freshman year in 2016 when he was Conference USA Freshman of the Year. Now he's back and healthy and his former position coach, Jason Rollins, is defensive coordinator.
QB Cordale Grundy, WR Tykee Ogle-Kellogg, WR Tariq Woolen, DE Lorenzo Dantzler, DE Robert Fuentes, DE T.J. King, LB Donovan Perkins
JUCO transfer Cordale Grundy is competing for the starting job after arriving over the winter. At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, he's not a big guy and had an up-and-down spring. He dislocated his toe in the spring game but that isn't expected to be an issue.
Tykee Ogle-Kellogg is a 6-foot-4, 195-pound three-star recruit who passed on offers from Louisville, Virginia Tech and other Power Five programs. He and redshirt freshman Tariq Woolen (6-foot-5, 205 pounds) will be instant-impact players for whoever wins the quarterback job.
Defensively, the biggest addition is defensive end Lorenzo Dantzler from East Mississippi Community College. He was a beast in the spring game, registering two sacks and a tackle for loss. Dantzler and JUCO transfer T.J. King and redshirt freshman Robert Fuentes –who had three sacks in the spring game — should ensure little drop-off up front, if any.
UTSA has one of the most challenging non-conference schedules in the country, opening the season with Arizona State, Baylor and Kansas State in consecutive weeks. They nearly beat Arizona State in San Antonio in 2016, squandering a 16-point lead in the second half to lose by four. They're looking for a home-and-home sweep of Baylor (won, 17-10, in Baylor last year).
The play consecutive home games just once, Week 4 vs. Texas State and Week 5 vs. UTEP.
|Saturday, Sept. 1||at Arizona State|
|Saturday, Sept. 8||vs. Baylor|
|Saturday, Sept. 15||at Kansas State|
|Saturday, Sept. 22||vs. Texas State|
|Saturday, Sept. 29||vs. UTEP|
|Saturday, Oct. 6||at Rice|
|Saturday, Oct. 13||vs. Louisiana Tech|
|Saturday, Oct. 20||at Southern Miss|
|Saturday, Oct. 27||BYE|
|Saturday, Nov. 3||at UAB|
|Saturday, Nov. 10||vs. FIU|
|Saturday, Nov. 17||at Marshall|
|Saturday, Nov. 24||vs. North Texas|